February 18, 2004

Another season, but the same old feelings

Two Poems by Major Jackson:

Born Under Punches

The deejay fingered a 12"
From a batch of milkcrates &
We were back inside the school
Gymnasium, catwalking between
Slowdrags & hipgrinds.
Skullcaps pulled below
Brows, Timberlands
Laced high, our fists swelled
Inside goose-down, metallic
Parkas. Spacemen
On the dancefloor!
Heavy-eyed, feral-faced,
We roamed till some
Boy's neck flashed
Links of gold.
When Big Jake threw
A suckerpunch, the boy
Fell like a swimmer
Giving up breathing. Lovers
Left each other's arms,
Backing away.
Someone's sister moaned
In the bleachers &
A heavy groove
Unlocked a flurry of fists.
In that darkness,
Speakers rose like
Housing-projects,
Moonlight diamonded
Mesh-wired glass.
What was it that bloomed
Around his curled
Body when the lights
Came up, fluorescent,
Vacant, garish?
The gym throbbed
With beats & rage
And his eyes darted
Like a man nailed
To a burning crucifix.

How To Listen

I am going to cock my head tonight like a dog
in front of McGlinchy's Tavern on Locust;
I am going to stand beside the man who works all day combing
his thatch of gray hair corkscrewed in every direction.
I am going to pay attention to our lives
unraveling between the forks of his fine-toothed comb.
For once, we won't talk about the end of the world
or Vietnam or his exquisite paper shoes.
For once, I am going to ignore the profanity and
the dancing and the jukebox so I can hear his head crackle
beneath the sky's stretch of faint stars.

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